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March 4, 2005

Patrick McEnroe


RANDY WALKER: We'll start with Patrick McEnroe.

Q. Happier than you were a couple of hours ago?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Obviously, it was a tough first match. You know, just thought Ivan played great. I mean, he's been playing extremely well. He came out with a lot of confidence. You know, Andre got a sluggish start, played better in the second. I think if he could have closed out that second set, he would have been up a break, it could have been a whole different story. I give Ivan a lot of credit. You can see he's playing with a lot of confidence. He played the big points well. When he got down some breakpoints on his serve, you know, he went for it. Just seemed like Andre never got really totally comfortable with what he was trying to do. You know, it was just a tough day. I'm sure Andre will be ready to go on Sunday, if necessary.

Q. You've seen Andy step up before in these situations. How happy are you with his performance?

CAPTAIN McENROE: It was a heck of a match, I thought. I just thought he did so many things so well. Obviously, winning the match was big, and getting off to a slow start, you know, he was a little maybe overexcited, you know, which he can be sometimes obviously in Davis Cup. Mario came out, played well. Andy -- we were a little surprised how much he stayed back, you know, served and stayed back a lot. Andy lost his serve a couple of times. But once he settled in, early in the second set, he just relaxed a little bit. You know, I just thought he defended really well. He stepped up into the court exceptionally well and used his forehand when he got on the offense. I thought he just, the last three sets, played phenomenally solid. You know, just really solid, workmanlike tennis.

Q. Andre was saying more or less that he thought he may have put too much pressure on himself, kind of got tight, a little bit unsettled, he was uncomfortable all day. How much of that were the conditions and Ljubicic, how much of that was just the pressure of him stepping in?

CAPTAIN McENROE: I think, look, I mean, everybody gets nervous playing Davis Cup - even Andre Agassi. But he's played so much, but it's been a while. It's been a few years since he's been out there. We all know it's a totally different environment. Andre has really meshed and bonded so well with the guys. You know, he takes a lot of pride in his being a part of the team and his responsibility. I think maybe in that sense, you're right, or he's right, he put pressure on himself, and maybe a little too much, to play too well. I think that he didn't play Andre Agassi-like tennis, you know, from the start of the match, which I think if he'd been able to do, even if Ljubicic playing that well, maybe would have been able to wear him down. You know, he just didn't quite find his rhythm and his range. But I certainly hope and think that he'll be playing a lot more matches for us this year, so I think he'll settle in.

Q. Do you have a gut feeling about what they're going to do about the doubles tomorrow?

CAPTAIN McENROE: I'd be shocked if they don't put their two big guys out there. I mean, let's be honest, if they don't, I think they're in a whole lot of trouble. I would certainly expect that that's what's going to happen. Look, it's a difficult match. I mean, with them serving as well as they do, maybe Mario slowing down a little bit today in that match, but he's extremely fit and he's a very focused young guy. I think he'll come out tomorrow and play well. Obviously, Ivan is playing exceptionally well. They're a good team. They played some good matches against the Bryans. But obviously these are the guys we want out there at 1-All. They've done it before, and I'm sure they'll play well. If they play well at home in these conditions, I think we feel good about our chances.

Q. In terms of Andre's match, how frustrating, as the captain and coach, is it not to be able to get your guy to kick start and get it going? What did you advise him?

CAPTAIN McENROE: It's very frustrating. You know, when you're out there, you're going through each and every shot, each and every swing. You know, I lose the match, as well, and I don't do my job well enough because certainly I felt like Andre was a swing or two away from really getting his teeth into the match. For one stage, I really felt like he was starting to dictate play and Ljubicic was far back and Andre was starting to move him, then all of a sudden, for whatever reason, he'd just make a couple of loose errors. So, you know, part of my job out there is to try to get my guy feeling confident and executing his game. So it's a team effort, you know, every time you go out there.

Q. What do you think happened at the end of the second set?

CAPTAIN McENROE: You know, it's hard for me to remember exactly how that game went. But I just think Andre, he never really felt comfortable with how he was swinging, you know, how he was trying to either hit the ball sort of through the court or hit the ball with a little more spin. That's something he's sort of always tinkering with. So I just think he never really felt that comfortable. Then when you're trying to serve out a set, that's when you have to be comfortable. Look, you've got to give Ljubicic a lot of credit. The guy, as I said, is playing with a lot of confidence. That means when he's down, he hits his shots on his own serve. You know, he was hitting the ball heavy. I mean, the ball was really jumping off his racquet. He used his backhand exceptionally well. He didn't make that many mistakes. I think, obviously, Andre made a lot more errors than we're used to seeing from him. But Ljubicic didn't really give anything away.

Q. Andre was pretty open about saying he felt he let the team down. What did you say to him afterwards?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Andre is going to be ready for Sunday. I mean, there's no question. He's been through this before. You know, we're a team, so we're going to win or lose this together. We have a tremendous belief and respect in Andre. As I said, he's meshed so well with the guys and with the team concept. None of that surprised us in any way, shape or form. He's just going to get off the mat, come out tomorrow and root hard and hope we get up 2-1 going into Sunday. You know, there's not a lot I need to say to Andre. He sort of said sorry to me. I said, "Listen, there's nothing for you to be sorry about. You go out there, you try your butt off, and let's see what happens." So we feel real good about what he's going to bring to the table on Sunday.

Q. Ljubicic made the point that while he wasn't totally happy with the court, Andre was a great deal less happy with it. The grainy surface of the court, Ljubicic's kick serve is more effective than it would have been on a slicker surface.

CAPTAIN McENROE: His kick serve was probably a little more effective, that's true. You know, that is my call. I've got to make that tough decision about exactly how to go with the court, thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of our guys, not just singles players, but the doubles team, and their guys. It's a balancing act. Obviously, I think it was pretty helpful to Andy and his serve and his game. You have to try to find that ground that works for our guys as much as possible and against their guys. Maybe in that case it didn't work. You know, this is a tie that's played over three days, so I think the jury's still out.

Q. You're not second-guessing yourself?

CAPTAIN McENROE: I'll only second guess myself if we lose. Then I'll second guess myself, yeah.

Q. Bob said yesterday they're undefeated, but he thinks this one coming up tomorrow is by far the toughest team they've played. Do you agree?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Yeah, I think so. I think it is. But in saying that, Bob and Mike play their best tennis in Davis Cup. You know, I expect they're going to play well. If they play well, as I said, we feel good about our chances. That by no means means that we're a lock to win, but I think they will play well.

Q. Are they particularly stoked, since it's their first show here in Southern California?

CAPTAIN McENROE: They're stoked, period. You know, there's no particular (inaudible) when you're talking about those boys. As they told me before their first match in Bratislava, after the warm-up, the first time they played, "We've been waiting 25 years for this moment." They're jumping off the walls as we speak back at the hotel, you can be sure of that.

Q. Have you ever seen those guys flat, even for a minute?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Not in Davis Cup, no. Once in a while in a tournament somewhere. But, you know, they play well when they play with a lot of energy. That's really important to them. Sort of the format of Davis Cup, coming out for the one match, suits them pretty well.

Q. Is that a similar thing, Andy seems to be that way?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Yeah, Andy plays well when he's aggressive and he's motivated and he's intense, in a positive way, sort of juiced up. The first set, you know, he was sort of finding his way, and was a little irritated with himself. Once he relaxed in his own head and just went to work, it was a very solid display by him, I thought. Did a lot of things really, really well.

Q. In terms of the team meshing, did Andy take a bit of a different role here with Andre this week as opposed to the previous couple of years?

CAPTAIN McENROE: Well, Andre seems to hold court a little more at dinner, when we go out to our team dinners, tells story. But Andy has become obviously the leader of the team in the way he goes about his business - not just in the wins and losses and the matches, but in the practice sessions, his intensity. Certainly I think he's learned some of that from Andre in practicing with him over the years and being around, playing a lot of exhibitions with him. I feel like Andy's professionalism has really come a long way in the last couple of years. But the bottom line as far as this team goes, they're both leaders, they both sort of feed off each other. You know, we're going to pull Andre up and we're going to get him ready to go. This is a team. This really is a team. In no way did he let us down. He's been here. Andy's lost matches before, and we've won the tie. There's no reason why we can't get back up tomorrow and close this thing out on Sunday.

End of FastScripts….

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